The city of Los Angeles granted its first licenses for cannabis sale on Friday, Jan. 12, with Mother Nature’s Remedy Caregivers in Woodland Hills being the first recipient of a medicinal license. WHTC in Studio City was granted the first recreational license.
David Slocum is the owner of Mother Nature’s, and he says he was the first to apply for Proposition D immunity back in 2007 (which eventually came into effect in 2013), and then, on Friday, was the first to apply for medicinal. All recipients of city licenses now have to wait for state approval.
“Now I will be legal as far as the state and the city is concerned, and I can continue to operate,” Slocum says. “I didn’t apply right off the bat for recreational. I’ve been a medicinal shop for 12 years, and I wanted to see the landscape and see what happens. Not that I don’t want to apply for adult, but I don’t want to apply and be the first black man arrested for it. Not state and not local, but federally. There are only five black owners in the whole city. When I spoke with everybody, we all decided not to apply for a recreational right away, but to apply for our medicinal first.”
Mother Nature’s has been focused on medicinal care since opening 12 years ago, offering cold-pressed juices, organic coffees and teas, an infra-red sauna and shower room, acupuncture, reiki and cupping therapy, as well as plant-based remedies. Slocum says he’s been carefully negotiating the city and state laws.
“Anyone in L.A. only has the city license, because the state says that they wouldn’t grant us until the city recognized us,” he says. “Since L.A. was dragging their feet and didn’t give anyone a license until yesterday [Jan. 12], the state refused to accept any of us until we got our local license.”
Dispensaries in greater Los Angele County have been operating since the passage of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. In 2013, about 135 Pre-ICO (Pre-Interim Control Ordinance) businesses were allowed to legally operate in the county. But the city of L.A.’s laws have been much stricter.
Under Proposition D, of course, local dispensaries were granted limited immunity, but no license. Once granted Prop D protection, businesses were operating under Proposition M, which set tax rates, and the rules regarding transportation, cultivation and more. Now though, proprietors such as Slocum simply have to wait for the green light from the state of California before they can fully-legally do what the city of Los Angeles says they can do.
“I applied — you have to fill out all the paperwork and submit what the state’s asking for, and what the city’s asking for,” he says. “You have to put it all together and submit, and then it’s a waiting game. The only people who can submit are the people who have been open since 2007 and are Prop D eligible.”
Jackie (who prefers not to reveal her full name), is the manager of WHTC, and she confirms that her store is the first to get a recreational license in L.A., besides West Hollywood which has its own municipality.
“We applied the moment we could apply, which was 10 days ago,” she says. “We got an email yesterday [Friday] morning, and then we ran to the office to complete what we needed to do, and we are licensed in the city. We’ve already submitted to the state — we’re very efficient — and I hear that the state is processing things quickly. Yesterday, we started to get prepared as much as we could so that we’re ready. We’re hoping to be recreational by Monday at the latest.”